BANGOR — Husson University senior righthander Dan Beatham of Dexter has had his ups and downs during his career.
But he couldn’t have picked a better time to throw a masterpiece.
Beatham pitched a complete-game six-hitter, striking out six and walking two, to lead the Eagles to a 3-1 victory over Castleton State (Vt.) Sunday in the North Eastern Athletic East Division championship game at the Winkin Complex..
Husson, now 27-15, will take on NEAC West Division champ Penn State Berks in a best-of-three series at Castleton State next weekend for the right to play in the NCAA Division III Tournament. Husson’s title was its second in three years.
Husson had beaten Castleton State 10-4 in the winners bracket game on Saturday to reach the championship round while Castleton State eliminated Thomas College 4-3 later Saturday to advance.
Castleton State, which wound up 20-20, needed to beat Husson twice on Sunday but Beathem took care of business in game one. The only run off him was unearned and came in the ninth inning.
He threw 132 pitches, 83 for strikes, to outduel Castleton State junior righty Brandon Fay.
Fay allowed just four four hits and only one of the runs off him was earned. He struck out five and walked four and threw 131 pitches, 82 for strikes.
“The weather had a lot to do with it,” said Beatham, who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. “I felt great today. I felt I could throw every pitch for strikes. I was confident.”
Beatham, who featured a slider-like curve and fastball and mixed in a few changeups, called it “definitely the highlight of my career.
“I threw a lot of curves. They were working for me so I stuck with them,” said Beatham.
“He had great command of his pitches,” said Castleton State freshman first baseman Joe Borowski, who went 0-for-3. “He wasn’t outside the (strike) zone a lot. His breaking pitch didn’t drop much but it still had movement on it. His fastball was straight but we just couldn’t hit it today.”
Beatham allowed just five runners to get into scoring position and retired the leadoff hitter in seven of the nine innings. He threw 21 first-pitch strikes to the 35 hitters he faced.
He also benefited from some exceptional defensive plays as his mates played errorless ball until shortstop Ethan Guerette made a throwing error in the ninth.
But Guerette had made two tremendous plays earlier in the game to prevent leadoff men from reaching base as he fully extended to his right to make a diving catch on Mat Pause’s liner to open the third inning and handled a slow roller off the bat of the speedy Jack Lancelin and threw him out to start the sixth.
Husson center fielder Tom Crews had made an exceptional diving catch off Lancelin’s sinking liner in the first.
“We played phenomenal defense today,” said Husson coach Jason Harvey.
Husson took the lead in the first on Dylan Foster’s infield single, a throwing error by Borowski on Jake Arthers’ grounder and Guerette’s RBI fielder’s choice. Borowski tried to start a double play “but I dropped my elbow and the throw sailed over (Zielinski’s) head.”
Husson made it 2-0 in the second when Crews was hit by a pitch, stole second and third and scored when Cody McInnis hit a 3-2 pitch to right for a sacrifice fly.
“I was trying to protect the plate and I put a swing on it,” said McInnis.
Husson scored its final run in the fourth on a walk, a two-base throwing error on Fay’s pickoff attempt and Kevin Rennick’s sacrifice fly to center on a 1-2 pitch.
“I was just trying to put the ball in play. He threw me a high curve and I got under it,” said Rennick.
Castleton State rallied for a run in the ninth and had the tying run at the plate,
Matt Eisenhuth’s infield single and Zak Mayo’s line drive single put the first two runners on for the first time but Beatham struck out Aaron Zrenda before Borowski’s grounder ticked off Beatham to Guerette. Guerette stepped on second but his throw to first sailed wide to allow the run to score.
Peter Wagner grounded out to end the game.
“This was, by far, the best game (Beatham) has ever thrown,” said Rennick who also thought Fay turned in a gem.
“He was great. You can’t give him enough credit,” said Rennick about Fay.
Fay said, “My curve helped me out quite a bit. I didn’t find my fastball until the later in the game.”
Foster was the game’s only repeat hitter.
Joining Beatham on the All-Tournament team were Husson’s Vanidestine (.429) and Shawn Smith (.417); Castleton State pitchers Dakota Aker (eight-hit, three-run complete game win), Tyler Erickson (four-hit, one-run complete-game win) and Fay; Thomas’ Josh Nickerson (.455) and Ben Goodall (.357) and UM-Farmington’s Josh Garneau (.444) and Jack MacVane (.400).